November 30, 2014

World Cup 2018 & 2022: More bidding process corruption claims

The House of Commons Culture Media and Sport select committee has published previously unseen material submitted to it by the Sunday Times newspaper.
It draws on claims by senior sources that officials connected to England's bid for the 2018 World Cup ran an intelligence-gathering operation against rival nations.
Russia and Qatar won the bids.
This submission by the Sunday Times outlines how England 2018 executives compiled a database of rumours and intelligence - gathered by private companies and, significantly, British embassies.

Israeli cricket umpire killed by ball

Witnesses say a fast delivery by the bowler came off the batsman's bat, striking the wicket and then the man.
The incident comes just two days after Australian batsman Phillip Hughes died of a head injury caused by being struck by a ball at a match in Sydney.
Umpires in cricket, unlike some players, do not wear helmets but such incidents are extremely rare.
AFP news agency, quoting the Israeli Cricket Association, named the umpire as Hillel Oscar, 55, and described him as the former captain of the national cricket team.
There were conflicting reports about how he died, with some saying that he was hit in the face, others that he suffered a heart attack after being hit in the chest.

November 29, 2014

Drunk Pole who drove lorry wrong way jailed in UK,Drunk-Pole-who-drove-lorry-wrong-way-jailed-in-UK

Tomasz Kruchowski was over three times over the limit when he was detained by police officers on the Black Country Route in the West Midlands, earlier this week.

''They saw an HGV articulated lorry emerge the wrong way from a no entry side road and drive onto the route,'' recounted prosecuting barrister Valerie Hart at Walsall Magistrates Court.

''It was travelling westbound on the eastbound carriageway heading towards oncoming traffic.

''Officers were clearly perturbed by what they could see.''

The arrest was made at 2.30 am local time.

November 19, 2014

Russia tests 'satellite catcher'

Russia may be testing a satellite capable of chasing down other orbiting spacecraft, observers say.
Such technology could be used for a wide variety of uses, including to repair malfunctioning spacecraft, but also to destroy or disable them.
The Kosmos 2499 satellite separated from the upper stage of its rocket two years ago and then chased it down.

November 18, 2014

Achtung! Germany named world's favorite country

Yes, from being the world's pariah in the decades following Nazism and World War II, Germany is now the world's favorite country, according to the Anholt-Gfk Nations Brand Index, which measures the image of 50 leading nations.
The Teutonic powerhouse knocked the United States from its longtime perch at the top of the ratings, which measure "twenty-three different attributes that make up the six overall dimensions on which national image is based."
"Germany appears to have benefited not only from the sports prowess it displayed … at the FIFA World Cup championship, but also by solidifying its perceived leadership in Europe through a robust economy and steady political stewardship," said Simon Anholt, who created the index in 2005.

Female Indonesian police recruits forced to undergo ‘virginity tests’

Female recruits hoping to join Indonesia’s police force are forced to undergo two-finger “virginity tests”, a rights group has found, a practice that leaves the women traumatised, humiliated and in pain.
The test is listed publicly as a requirement to enter the force and performed as part of the chief of police’s health inspection guidelines for new candidates, which requires women to complete an “obstetrics and gynaecology” exam.
“Entering the virginity test examination room was really upsetting,” one interviewee said. “I feared that after they performed the test I would not be a virgin anymore. They inserted two fingers with gel … it really hurt. My friend even fainted.”

Philae Lander Sends Back Data Before Batteries Shut Down

(had to upload elsewhere because google is screwing around, just click on the picture to see in original resolution)

A pioneering robotic spacecraft shut down on Saturday after radioing results of its first and probably last batch of scientific experiments from the surface of a comet, scientists said.
Batteries aboard the European Space Agency's Philae comet lander drained, shutting down the washing machine-sized probe after an adventurous and largely unscripted 57-hour mission.
Carried aboard the orbiting Rosetta mothership, Philae floated to the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Thursday, but failed to deploy anchoring harpoons.

Song lyrics taken from Peter Schilling - Major Tom (Völlig losgelöst)
English version of the song, also sung by Schilling:

European leaders fear growth of Russian influence abroad

European governments are increasingly alarmed that Vladimir Putin is building on his destabilisation of Ukraine to extend Russian power and influence within the European Union, targeting the former Soviet bloc countries of central Europe and former Yugoslavia, all of which are in or seeking to join the EU.
In a speech in July Orban denounced the west European democratic model as an obsolete failure and held up Putin as a template for a modern successful leader. In January he met Putin in Moscow secretly, secured a €10bn line of credit from the Russians, and awarded contracts to Moscow for the building of two new reactors at Hungary’s sole nuclear power plant. Hungarians found out when the news was posted on the Russian government website.

November 17, 2014

Fireworks pause Italy-Croatia clash

The clash at San Siro was tied at 1-1 late in the second half when the Balkans' visiting fans hurled flares on to pitch, which caused fire crews to rush on to the pitch in the 73rd minute.
In the 76th minute players were briefly led down the tunnel as riot police were brought into the stadium in an attempt to settle the raucous Croatian supporters.

November 16, 2014

Cat on the loose in France isn't a tiger after all, police say

The big cat spotted in the woods east of Paris isn't a tiger after all, French authorities said Friday, citing analysis of the beast's tracks.
But an official with the National Board of Wildlife and Hunting, Eric Hansen, told CNN affiliate BFM that the cat, whatever it is, poses no danger to people.
Witnesses first reported the feline Thursday in an area not from Disneyland Paris. Park visitors weren't in any danger, a spokeswoman said.

Erdoğan says America was discovered by Muslims, not Columbus

America was discovered by Muslims, not by Christopher Columbus, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has claimed, vowing to build a mosque "on that hill" in Cuba if the authorities of the Caribbean nation grant the permit.
Dr. Youssef Mroueh of the As-Sunnah Foundation of America had publicized the claim about a pre-Columbian mosque in Cuba. In 1996, he wrote that "Columbus admitted in his papers that on Monday, October 21, 1492 CE while his ship was sailing near Gibara on the north-east coast of Cuba, he saw a mosque on top of a beautiful mountain."
Some Muslim scholars aside, the same diary entry is widely understood as a metaphoric reference to a protuberance on the summit of a mountain that resembles a mosque's dome or minaret. Moreover, although the first "widespread" habitation of the Americas is dated around 16,500–13,000 years ago, a pre-Columbian ruin of an Islamic structure has yet to be discovered.

Angela Merkel hits the bars in Brisbane ahead of G20 sumit

Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, hit the bars in Brisbane shortly after arriving in at the G20 summit on Friday night.
Ms Merkel posed for selfies with locals who screamed her name as they passed and offered to buy her schnapps.
Kirsten Sealey, one of those who posed with the Chancellor, said: “She knows where the party’s at. The sign of a true leader, mixing it up with the locals.”
One bar played the pop song 99 Luftbalons in her honour shortly after she left the venue.

Vladimir Putin to leave G20 early after 'tense' meeting with David Cameron

The Russian president is reportedly planning to leave the summit early on Sunday and miss its official lunch in response to repeated criticism from western leaders.

The move comes after Tony Abbott, the Australian Prime Minister, threatened to "shirt front" Mr Putin - a form of physical confrontation. Stephen Harper, the Canadian Prime Minister, told Mr Putin: "I guess I'll shake your hand, but I'll only have one thing to say to you - get out of the Ukraine."

Mr Cameron told Mr Putin that he is at a "crossroads" and could face further sanctions after the pair held "robust" discussions on Ukraine.

During a tense 50 minute meeting Mr Cameron warned that Russia is risking its relations with the West and must end its support for Russian separatists.

Clashes at Dutch Black Pete protest in Gouda

Dutch police have arrested dozens of people during a protest over Black Pete, a controversial black-faced sidekick to the local St Nicholas.
The police said most of the 90 people were arrested for protesting in a non-designated area in the city of Gouda.
Many in the Netherlands see Black Pete as a racial stereotype, but others say the tradition is not linked to race.

The Black Pete character is causing mounting controversy in the Netherlands.
Last year, hundreds of people staged a protest in Amsterdam.
Earlier this year, Amsterdam's regional court said the image of Black Pete "with his thick red lips, being a stupid servant, gives rise to a negative stereotyping of black people".
The court ordered Amsterdam's authorities to review the festival.